2020 has seen the revival of disco and a plethora of nods to eras ranging from 1970s disco, the synth-wave era to new jack swing. Jessie Ware’s newest album What’s Your Pleasure? is no different.
Ware is an English singer-songwriter who has been creating music since the beginning of the 2010s. She released three albums prior to this latest one. Unfortunately, since my musical palette was so bland as a child, I never had heard of her.
She caught my attention a few weeks ago when she dropped the single “Save A Kiss”. It’s a song that brings up feelings of waiting on your romantic partner to come home to you, whether they are gone at work or just out and about anywhere, and you are anticipating the moment when you see them walk through the door and the first thing you do is run to them and kiss them. There’s a lot of emotion packed into the song. The crescendo in the hook when she belts out “Just save a little bit of your lovin’, baby” is pure excellence.
In my latest ‘MUSIC MONDAYS’ column from last Monday, I talked about the song “Remember Where You Are”, which is a unique blend of soul in the verses, reminiscent of Earth, Wind & Fire, and the climax of a Broadway musical in the hook. It was the moment I knew that I had to give this album a review, and I am glad I did.
This is my favorite album of the year so far. It’s as close to perfect as an album can get.
Now, I grew up listening to mostly rap and R&B, so, of course, I am sucker for any albums that fall within the range. Somehow, some way, Ware hits all the right notes on this record. The power of disco is shown throughout, but there are also hints of soul, synth-wave, dance-pop and funk.
The album grabs your undivided attention in the opener with “Spotlight”. I cannot stress how much I am in love with the hook. It is my favorite hook of the year. I can’t stop listening to it. There is this breathiness and subtleness to go along with the disco backing that just mixes seamlessly.
“What’s Your Pleasure?” oozes sex appeal. It essentially allows the listener to indulge in their sexual freedom. I love the beat and the synth chords. It will be a great song for clubs once the world can find normalcy again.
We get a total funk track on “Ooh La La”, which plays more into sexual fantasies with these innuendos being sprinkled throughout the track. The bass line is outstanding, and the abundance of sampled sounds remind me of something out of The Gap Band’s discography.
Ware’s inner-Janet Jackson comes out on the track “Soul Control”, which is another excellent piece of synth-funk. It’s a lively piece, and I enjoy the rapid pauses in her vocals in the hook.
If you watch Stranger Things, then you will definitely be reminded of the show’s theme on “In Your Eyes”. You can sense the darkness in the lyrics where she talks about a situation where she is overwhelmed and can’t breathe. However, she is addicted to what it is and won’t fight it.
“Step Into My Life” is peak 1980s R&B. It reminds me of The S.O.S. Band, specifically “Take Your Time (Do It Right)” the hook.
“Read My Lips” feels Prince-inspired with the subtle, almost quiet, breathy vocals. Also, the sampled smooch sounds are 100% derived from his song “Kiss”.
The penultimate track “The Kill” feels like a chase scene at night in an action film. There’s a sense of anxiety throughout the track that then becomes a sigh of relief at the end where Ware hints at optimism and a light at the end of a dark tunnel.
“Adore You” and “Mirage (Don’t Stop)” certainly are not terrible songs but Ware sets the bar so high at the beginning of the record. These songs just didn’t hit me as much as the rest of the fantastic songs all over the record.
In just under an hour, which is lengthy for any album, Jessie Ware finds a way to keep the listener entertained. It is a reminder of just how great disco, R&B, and funk are. I loved nearly every minute of this record, and all the great tracks on the album vastly overtake any little negatives I had with it.
Jessie Ware, welcome to the realm of perfection.
Richest Tracks: “Spotlight”, “What’s Your Pleasure?”, “Ooh La La”, “Soul Control”, “Save A Kiss”, “In Your Eyes”, “Step Into My Life”, “Read My Lips”, “The Kill”, “Remember Where You Are”
Worst Track: “Mirage (Don’t Stop)”
Listen to the album(PLEASE):